Conservation of Metalwork

Graduate Diploma Conservation of Metalwork

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Duration: 1 academic year (36 weeks) full time

The Graduate Diploma is the start of your transition into conservation studies if your undergraduate degree was not in a related field.

An internationally respected metals programme with a practical focus, practical work (75% of the course) is supported by studying the history, conservation theory and material science of objects. You will help organise and undertake work for clients, learn to estimate and tender for work. Seminars, lectures and case studies help you to develop a competitive portfolio and workplace skills.

You can expect

  • A focus on practical skills
  • To develop high level applied craft and conservation skills in metalwork
  • To handle, assess and make proposals for the treatment of a range of objects
  • Theoretical, scientific and analytical study of artefacts and materials

Learning environment

  • High tutor: student ratio
  • Workshop access 7am-10pm, 7 days a week
  • Interdisciplinary environment
  • Teaches students to understand and apply Icon's Professional Standards in Conservation
  • Visiting lecturers from public and private institutions and workshops
  • Group visits to collections, studios and workshops.

Contact Hours


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, external trips and visits and workshop practicals. In addition, you have personal tutorials with your subject tutor.

On the Graduate Diploma you typically have around 20-21 contact hours per week, typically consisting of:

  • 5-6 hours of lectures
  • 1 hour of seminars
  • 11 hours of supervised workshop practicals
  • 2 hours of external trips & visits (on average)
  • 1 hour of one-to-one meetings/tutorials

Independent learning

When not attending lectures, seminars and workshop or other timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve reading journal articles and books, working on individual and group projects, undertaking research in the library and preparing coursework assignments and presentations.

Overall workload

Graduate Diploma: 63% of your time is spent in scheduled teaching and learning activity. Scheduled teaching and learning: 752 hours, Independent learning: 416 hours.

Programme Structure


You will work in our well-equipped metals workshop with individual bench space, a forge and foundry equipped for soldering, brazing and welding, and a tool room. There is a laboratory designed for the safe use and storage of chemicals and a machine shop with lathe, drills, saws and grinders. Collaboration with other conservation specialisms makes for a uniquely enriched learning environment.

A well-equipped analytical laboratory is also available to students. The computer suite and on-site Art and Conservation Library puts thousands of specialist books and journals, databases within your reach.

Entry Requirements

Degree or qualification at equivalent level to a second year of undergraduate study (e.g. HND, DipHE). You will be able to demonstrate significant interest and ability in conservation and metalsmithing.

International students will require English language CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) level B2 or IELTS 6.5 or above.


Graduates of the programme usually transition to the MA Conservation Studies (via the Postgraduate Diploma first stage). Others pursue entry level positions in the heritage sector.

"Prior to attending West Dean, I completed a BS degree in Manufacturing Engineering. Prior to that, I worked professionally as a toolmaker and machinist in the perforating and aerospace industries. I feel that studying conservation will lead to a career where I can combine my background in science and technology with my interests in hand crafts, art and history.

As a student I've had the opportunity to start a blacksmith student society, open to any student interested in the traditional art of blacksmithing and utilising the college's forge workshop.

I am looking forward to my summer position working as a conservation specialist focusing on operational artefacts for the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Daniel Ravizza, Graduate Diploma, Conservation of Metalwork


  • UK/EU Fee: £13,560
  • International: £13,560

Tuition fees include much more than is typical of universities, i.e. tuition fees plus basic materials, lunch, morning/afternoon tea/coffee. Included is mandatory study trip cost of £400 which typically includes tailored visits to collections/exhibitions of specific interest to the programme of study. For one day study trips lunch is provided, while for residential study trips meals are not included.

Additional costs
Accommodation and living expenses are additional.

Currently a third of all tuition fees are met through bursary or scholarship funding.
In 16/17 almost 60% of students were in receipt of some support. Find out about funding here.


Maickel van Bellegem ACR

Maickel van Bellegem ACR - Subject Leader Metalwork

Maickel van Bellegem ACR is a goldsmith and metals conservator who has worked both independently and in museums, notably the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum and the V&A Museum. He has worked on a range of metal objects for display, loans, storage and research purposes, and has published regularly. He has membership of a number of professional organisations and is accredited by Icon.

Program advisors

  • Hazel Newey: former Head of Conservation at the Science Museum.
  • Richard Rogers: Richard Rogers Conservation.
  • Alistair Dickenson: specialist in precious metalwork.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for this course or would like further information please contact admissions either by enquiring online or calling the number below. To make your application you will need to download and fill out our application form.

Apply for Degree and Diploma courses

Applications are welcome from UK/EU and International students.

Learn more about applying and entry

Find out about Funding opportunities here